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The coldest place on Earth has been measured by satellite to be minus 93.2 Celsius (-135.8F) in Antarctica, recorded on 10 August 2010.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, the official coldest place on the planet is also in Antarctica, at the Russian Vostok base, which regularly has temperatures of around -80C
"The new low is a good 50 degrees colder than temperatures in Alaska or Siberia, and about 30 degrees colder than the summit of Greenland," Ted Scambos from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre told BBC News.
"It makes the cold snap being experienced in some places in North America right now seem very tame by comparison."
The deep freeze currently engulfing much of the US states is likely to set new record low temperatures.
Windchills of nearly -60C (-70F) are threatening to turn states in the north and northwest US into similar conditions to the Antarctica.
A phenomenon described as a polar vortex is set to suck freezing air from the Arctic into North and South Dakota, the Great Lakes states and New England, sending temperatures plummeting.
Washington DC has already seen its coldest temperatures for 20 years and several Mid Western states have recorded their chilliest weather for more than a decade.
The Arctic conditions have heightened fears of frostbite and hypothermia. "The last really big Arctic outbreak was 1994," Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the National Weather Service told Reuters. "Outbreaks like this don't occur every day."
The storm - named Hercules - has caused thousands of flights to be cancelled, with travellers spending nights in cots provided by airport authorities. The Associated Press has attributed at least 13 deaths to the storm.
A Philadelphia worker was killed when a pile of salt being prepared to treat roads cascaded on to him. A 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease was also found dead after she wandered away from her home in New York State.
Meanwhile, those lucky enough to be in Brazil have experienced soaring temperatures. In Rio de Janeiro, fire sprinklers were set off in shopping malls as the thermometer topped 40C (102F).
Thousands headed to the beach as temperatures rose to more than 50C in the brilliant sunshine.
TOP FIVE FREEZING CONDITIONS ON EARTH
1. Dome Fuji ridge East Antarctic Plateau -93.2C
A high ridge located between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji on the East Antarctic Plateau saw the lowest ever temperature on Earth, according to Nasa satellite data. As the temperature was not recorded directly, however, it is not counted as a new Guinness World record.
2. Russia's Vostok research station -89.2C
The Vostok Station is a Russian Antarctic research station at 3,488 meters above sea level. It remains officially the coldest place on Earth, having measured -89.2C (or -128.6 °F) on 21 July 1983.
3. Dome A, Antarctic Plateau −82.5C
Dome Argus is an Antarctica plateau located near East Antarctica at 4091 meters above sea level. The coldest temperature ever recorded there was -82.5 C (or -116.5 F) in July 2005. It is the highest point of ice sheet in Antarctic region.
4. Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station -82C
A scientific research station in the southernmost place on earth the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station has recorded temperatures below −73C.
5. Mount McKinley, Alaska -73.8C
Denali, or Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, has long been considered the coldest mountain on Earth. Winter air temperatures regularly fall to -40C.